A new Government funding scheme will deliver cost reductions for Clare farmers who are being forced to purchase hay and silage from outside the island of Ireland. The present fodder crisis is one of the most severe experienced by farmers in County Clare since late 1998 and early 1999.
€1 million is being allocated to an imported fodder transport scheme which will operate through the County’s Dairy co-operatives (milk purchasers). It will cover forage imported by the co-ops from 15th April 2013 to 3rd May 2013 and will be subject to EU State Aid rules.
The new scheme will substantially cover the cost of transport into the country and will reduce the cost to Clare farmers of a bale of hay by approximately one third.
I want to acknowledge the hard work being carried out by Clare's local farming organisations and individual members of the farming community to assist farmers who have been particularly affected by the fodder shortage. The poor weather last summer and autumn followed by an extended cold period in late February and March of this year has resulted in severe shortages in animal fodder and therefore, I believe this funding announcement is very much justified.
I am delighted that the Co-ops have confirmed that they will facilitate farmers who need help in sourcing urgent fodder supplies, whether or not they are existing customers or suppliers. While the scheme will operate through the Dairy co-operatives, the actual beneficiaries will be local farmers and primary producers who need urgent supplies of feed.
Farmers wishing to apply should contact their local dairy co-op and tell them how much they need. The Department will pay the co-op a contribution towards the cost of transport which in turn will be reflected in the ultimate price to the farmer.
Apart from the new scheme, the Department of Agriculture is continuing to operate its Early Warning System whereby emergency assistance may be provided to farmers whose animals are experiencing serious welfare issues and where the farmer him/herself is unable to cope.